University Sustainability

Defining Sustainability since 1899

Green Spotlight Blogs

The Green Spotlight blogs allow students, faculty, staff, and friends of Appalachian a chance to express, in their own words, their personal connection to sustainability.

Annabelle B. - Growing Sustainably

As a child I did not grow up specifically hearing the word “sustainability.” For a long time I was not even aware of how my family had always had a sustainable mindset which has had a great influence on my connection to sustainability. We did not do everything in a sustainable way, but that was mostly because we did not have the option to. My town did not provide recycling or a local farmer's market where you could purchase a large variety of products. We did not have any type of public transportation. My town did not have many local shops either because a lot had gone out of business due to larger corporations such as Walmart coming to the area. My family created (or tried to create) little habits that were sustainable which was referred to as doing things that were good for the earth.

We maintained a garden where we could harvest our own food for a few months of the year. We also had a compost. It was not the best system for a compost since we just threw everything in a wooden supposed-to-be-sandbox and we rarely turned the material to allow oxygen to vent through. It is the thought that counts, though. This at least prevented as much waste from being sent to the landfills. My mom bought my siblings and me craft books.Some of them provided us the needed material, but we also had books that taught us how to use objects and materials from around the house to create art with. This had a great impact on me by getting me into the process of thinking of other ways something could be used instead of carelessly throwing it away. I not only learned from the art books to not throw things away without thinking, but also from my mom.

My mom always got on me and my siblings to not just dry our hands on paper towels or using a paper plate once and throwing it away. She taught me that even the things that are often thought to be used once, can actually be used over and over.If I was unable to use a hand towel I would wash my hands and dry them on the same paper towel several before throwing it out. One of the final things that I remember my family always doing was wearing used clothes from siblings, relatives, and friends. And once we stopped growing we would continue wearing those clothes for years. I never minded this much until I became a teenager and wanted all my clothes to be the “latest fashion” but since my mom would not buy me a new wardrobe every school year like most of my friends, I was able to become who I am now. The basics of fitting in is by appearance. I became used to looking the way I look and being who I am.

I have always been concerned about the environment and wanted to help protect it. Nature has always been a large part of my life, particularly in my childhood. I would climb trees, dig holes, make leaf boats, build pinestraw forts for my stuffed animals, explore the woods, dam up creeks, observe the blue birds lay eggs and watch the babies grow up. I was also the weird kid who enjoyed observing ants for hours. I was fascinated with nature and enjoyed every aspect of it. I had the privilege of not being limited to the nature in my yard. My parents would take me and my siblings to the local trails.

Taking long walks in the woods with my family are some of my fondest memories and happiest times. My favorite part was when we went off the trails and explored around. It was interesting looking at the trees, flowers, shrubs, briars, streams, and rivers where there was very little human impact on it. My parents have always informed me about different aspects of nature and about the negative ways humans use the environment such as deforestation, mining for coal, polluting the rivers, etc. On these walks I was dumbfounded to think of how people could treat their natural environment. For me, it was a great joy being out and a part of nature. As I grew up I never lost my concern for how often people had little respect and overused the environment.

It was not until my senior year of high school when I learned the textbook definition of sustainability in my AP Environmental Science class. The most common definition I have heard is about using natural resources in a way where it will not affect the lives of future generations. By this point of my life I was more aware of people's relationships with nature and I could not see how we could not affect future generations. As a busy senior and suffering from senioritis I wanted to help but could not find the time.

Once I came to Appalachian State University I found out so much more about sustainability and ways I could get involved. I quickly learned that it is about far more than just renewable energy and recycling. I also discovered that it was not just about helping the environment but people, also. This is something that most people are not aware of that is a huge aspect of sustainability. I decided to major in Sustainable Development with a minor in Sociology because I love how there will always be something you can do in sustainability. There can always be improvements to make our lifestyles more sustainable. You can help with a large project and leave an impact or do something simple and still know that you are leaving an impact. I have never been committed to something for very long in my life, but I found that I am greatly committed to sustainability and desire to help create the world to be as sustainable as possible.

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